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November 12, 2009

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Japanese war orphans make return trip to foster families

FORTY-FIVE Japanese war orphans who revisited China to thank their Chinese foster families received a warm welcome in Beijing yesterday.

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao met the orphans, now mostly in their 70s, in Zhongnanhai, a residential and office compound for state leaders.

Wen invited the orphans to Zhongnanhai for talks and also accompanied them on a visit to the former residence and office of the late Premier Zhou Enlai, who was very concerned about the war orphanage issue.

The Japanese orphans had been left behind by their parents after the eight-year war against China. More than 2,800 Japanese orphans were taken in by Chinese families, and most of them went back to Japan in the 1980s and 1990s after normalization of bilateral ties.

The return gathering was organized to express the war orphans' gratitude to their foster families, but the visit was also an emotional one as many of their foster parents have died.

"We cared about the living conditions of the orphans after they returned to Japan, and I believe that everybody will live a happy and stable life though their own efforts and by support from the Japanese government and all walks of life," said Wen in talks with the delegation.

Wen said that it was a handful of militarists who were responsible for the war, and the Japanese people were also victims of the conflict.

"The Chinese people, despite their own suffering caused by the war, saved the lives of the orphans and brought them up instead of pouring their hatred on the Japanese people," Wen said.

He said the war orphans will again feel the love given by their foster parents and the deep friendship between the Chinese and Japanese people.

The war orphans have been active in promoting China-Japan friendship since they returned to Japan. They raised funds to build a primary school called the China-Japan Friendship Hope School in the aftermath of the Sichuan earthquake last year. History shows "peace between China and Japan leads to mutual benefits, and rivalry is damaging to both," Wen said.

Members of the delegation said that although they now live in Japan, they still miss their family and hometowns in China. They were excited about the trip and want to continue to work for lasting friendship between the two peoples.


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